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STATS Hosts First Chicago-Based SportTechie Event

By: Andy Cooper

League rights. Over-the-top content. Virtual and augmented reality. Nontraditional properties. Sponsorship return on investment. Even the commercialization of ultimate frisbee.

No topics were off limits at SportTechie Chicago: Technology and the Evolution of Sports Media Valuation, hosted Wednesday, July 12 by STATS in partnership with GumGum Sports.

STATS VP David Ladd moderated while panelists Ryan Mosher, executive director of sponsorship solutions at GumGum Sports, and Dan Scalia, SVP at Stadium, discussed where they saw dollars moving across sports sponsorship and technology as an ever-complicating industry pushes forward.

Attendees’ professional ties at the first Chicago-based SportTechie event spanned social media to tech and teams. Regardless of association, the panel agreed technology’s influence on fan consumption with eyeballs shifting from traditional television viewing has opened the door to plenty of industry opportunity.

“GumGum Sports would not exist right now without the shifts in consumption,” Mosher said. “To better understand and provide stakeholders a more holistic view of everything that relates to media valuation – not only TV broadcast because that’s obviously going to still continue to be a key component – but more and more, fans and consumers are moving away from that. That’s been proven. The ability to apply the technology and capture all of that holistically is really why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Brands are reacting to OTT and degradation of numbers for traditional viewing platforms, and Scalia said they’re doing so favorably.

“I think the idea of being able to kind of translate who’s watching on television and what other channels or mediums are actually launching content around, it’s certainly attractive,” he said.

“I think what they’re trying to also understand is what’s the difference between the content that’s on a television broadcast or some sort of linear broadcast versus what’s going to be on over-the-top – whether it’s a Sling TV or Rabbit or any of those. As part of that, I think there’s an interesting story to be told.”

As for how that will play out in the coming months and years, Mosher pointed to the emergence of nontraditional properties’ roles – yes, down to TV deals and licensing for ultimate frisbee – in filling out content for existing and emerging platforms. Ladd specifically pointed to determining proper avenues of approach in the e-games market.

And because of these shifts and advents, the inevitable topic of increasing league rights fees and licensing costs came up as the panel was opened up for questions. Specifically, where does it plateau and, with the emergence of alternative revenue streams, how important are official league deals as those paying them weigh how they’ll recoup cost?

“I think we’re starting to witness that breaking point,” Scalia said. “We’re starting to see a constant shift. There hasn’t been a shift up until this point because there hasn’t been better alternatives to actually consume that content. The leagues are exceptionally smart. All they’re looking at is what that total licensing fee that they’re going to get is. How that’s defined – whether that’s coming from broadcast or OTT, or it’s coming from digital – it doesn’t necessarily matter to them.  But they are all hedging their bets expecting that cable subscribers are going to go down.”